H1N1 Swine flu update

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Since the first identification of the new H1N1 (swine flu) virus in March 2009, the infection has spread all over the world.

According to recent reports from the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 199 countries have reported laboratory-confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1.

In 2010, a total of 500,000 cases have been identified worldwide, with 6,000 deaths. However, most countries have now stopped counting individual cases and the global impact of the current pandemic has not yet been estimated.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the H1N1 virus has reached its peak and largely run its course but this doesn’t mean the virus has disappeared. During winter flu seasons, those with underlying health conditions could still be vulnerable and it is expected that the virus will continue to circulate for some years to come.

What have scientists discovered?

Of the reported cases of ‘swine flu’ many sufferers, had underlying conditions that were linked with severe influenza.

Many patients also had pneumonia, while others also reported vomiting and a fifth had diarrhoea.

The most common cause of death was pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Vaccines for pandemic (H1N1) 2009

Influenza vaccines are one of the most effective ways to protect people from contracting illness during influenza epidemics and pandemics.

The pandemic influenza is a new virus, and virtually everyone is susceptible to infection from it.

Vaccines will boost immunity against the new influenza, and help to protect public health as the pandemic evolves.

nH1N1 is part of the current seasonal flu vaccine.

For more information on the vaccines, please visit the World Health Organisation website.

For more detailed information on H1N1, read the news section in
ERS Breathe (December 2009).

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